Most people want to read more. It is a fun and enriching activity. It can help us become more knowledgeable and successful. However, it is an activity that many people do not get very involved in. According to the 1999 National Household Education Survey, 50% of the American population 25 and older reads a newspaper at least once a week, reads one or more magazines regularly, and has read a book in the last 6 months. What does this mean? It means that 50% of the population has not read a book in the last six months! Looking at the other end of the spectrum, research shows that if you read ten books a year, you are in the highest percentage of all people as readers. Simply put, it doesn’t take much to be a good read, but we need to know how to get started. Here are ten tips to help you strengthen your reading habit: ways to find and spend more time reading. 1. Always have a book handy. Don’t go anywhere without reading material. Keep magazines or stories in your bathroom. Always have something in your briefcase to read. Keep one (s) book (s) by your bed. Having things available makes it easier for you to steal moments that you would otherwise lose. 2. Set a reading goal. Determine how much time you want to spend reading or how many books you want to read over time. Your goal can be one book a month, one a week, or reading 30 minutes a day. Start with something that is achievable, but is still a stretch. As your habit develops, you can set higher goals. Setting a goal is the first step to reading more. 3. Keep a record. Keep a list of the books you have read or keep track of how long you read each day. You can save these lists in your journal or in your planner. My son’s record is on our refrigerator. My list and record are saved on my computer. It doesn’t matter where you keep it, just do it. 4. Keep a list. Make a list of things you want to read in the future. Ask your friends and colleagues what they are reading. Be on the lookout for recommendations in newspapers and magazines. Once you start looking for good books, you will find them everywhere. This is a great way to keep your enthusiasm going. By knowing what great material you want to read, you will reinforce your reading habit. 5. Turn off the television. Many people say they just don’t have enough time. Television is one of our main consumers of time. Make your television more aware and less habitual. There is nothing wrong with watching TV shows that you really enjoy. Where time is wasted is turning it on and scanning to find “something to look at.” Those are the times to turn it off and pick up your book! 6. Listen when you can’t read. Use your commute and the rest of your time in the car to listen! There are excellent audio versions of all kinds of books. Whether you want to “read” fiction, the latest self-help or diet book, it’s probably available on tape. Don’t get caught up in the idea that you have to read it; listening to the book still gives you the experience, ideas, and imagination that reading a book can offer. 7. Join a book group or book club. Reading groups normally meet once a month to discuss a book that everyone has decided to read. Engaging with the group provides a little more impetus to finish the book and gives you a great forum for discussion and socialization around the book’s themes. 8. Visit the library or bookstore often. You have your list, right? Then you will have some ideas of what you are looking for when you walk in. But there is more to be gained by walking around the places where the books reside than just making a transaction. Take your time browsing! Let your eyes find things of interest. Let the serendipity happen. Navigation will feed your mental need to read and give you lots of new things to read. 9. Build your own strategy. Decide when reading fits into your schedule. Some people read first thing in the morning, others before bed. Some decide to read over lunch. And there is more to your strategy than just time. Make your own decisions about reading. It’s okay to read more than one book at a time. It’s okay to stop reading before you finish if you’re not interested. It’s okay to flick through the book, getting what you want or need, without reading every page. Determine what works best for you, develop your own beliefs and ideas, then make them work for you. 10. Drop everything and read. My son’s fourth grade class has DEAR time. When the teacher asks for it, that’s what they do. Now they read. That is my last tip for you. Should. Get started. Make it DEAR time. Now.